VPN for Android: What it is and how to set it up (2024)

What is a VPN for Android?

A VPN, or a virtual private network, for Android enables users to securely connect to the internet by encrypting their online traffic and masking their IP address. Strong encryption also allows people in authoritarian regimes to bypass censorship and firewall blocks.

Next, we will explain how Android for VPN works and help you choose the right one for your device.

VPN options for Android

Android devices support several VPN protocols, such as PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and IPSec, so you can use a built-in VPN client. However, these protocols are quite old and largely considered outdated. Besides obvious security vulnerabilities, using Android’s built-in VPN may also compromise your privacy. Keep in mind that to set it up, you need access to the VPN server you’ll use.

A much safer option is to use an established VPN service. All Android devices from 4.0 support VPN apps and provide you with a no-hassle way to use VPN services. You should get an Android VPN app (or APK) if you also want to configure a VPN using an enterprise mobile management (EMM) console.

How can you automatically connect to a VPN for Android?

The best way to stay secure is to set up your VPN to connect to the internet automatically. This way, you can make sure that your private data is never exposed, even if you connect to a public network. Here’s how you can connect to a VPN for Android automatically.

Choose a reliable VPN provider

Many VPN providers offer apps for Android, so you have plenty to choose from. But how do you make sure you pick the right provider? Most importantly, choose a trustworthy VPN service offering great Android features.

Download VPN on Android

Your VPN provider will likely let you download the app directly from its website or offer a link to download it from the Google Play Store. Click on the link, download the app, and install it.

Set up your new VPN

Next, open your VPN and create an account. The steps vary depending on each VPN provider, but you’ll probably need to provide your email address and a strong password.

Select a VPN server

If you’ve set up your account, you can now connect to any VPN server offered by your provider. You can select a particular country or let the app connect you automatically. For example, NordVPN’s “Quick Connect” feature will find the fastest server and connect you automatically.

Connect to a VPN

When you’ve chosen a server, tap “Connect” to establish a VPN connection. You may be prompted to confirm the connection or grant permissions to the VPN app.

Check the connection

After connecting to the VPN server, check if the VPN is working. You should see “Connected” somewhere on the app. It’s also a good idea to make sure your IP address is different from before you connected to the VPN.

How to manually set up a VPN on Android

Using a VPN service on your Android to automatically connect to a VPN server will enhance your security and privacy. You can also set up a VPN on Android manually, but note that the connection will likely be slow and not secure. Here’s how to set up a VPN on Android manually:

  1. Go to “Settings,” tap “Wireless & networks” → “More settings” → “VPN” → “Add VPN network.”
  2. Under “Edit VPN network,” enter the required information as shown below.
    • Name: Enter a name of your choice.
    • Type: Select one from IPSec, PPTP, or L2TP/IPSec.
    • Server address: Enter the IP address of your VPN. Be aware, however, that depending on the provider, often only the paid version allows you to know the IP address.
    • Additional information: Depending on the type chosen, you may need additional information, such as a L2PT secret, IPSec identifier, or IPSec preshared key.
  3. Finally, tap “Save” to complete the VPN connection settings. To connect to the VPN, tap the VPN app again, enter your username and password, and tap “Connect.” You will know that your smartphone has connected to the VPN when you see “Connected” on the app screen.

Note that the protocols above are outdated, and NordVPN does not support them. Instead, we recommend using the methods below:

  • OpenVPN manual connection settings on Android
  • Connect to NordVPN (IKEv2/IPSec) on Android
  • Adjust Android app configuration

Benefits of a VPN for Android

If you’re wondering whether you need a VPN on an Android phone, understanding the benefits it provides may help you make the right choice. Here are some of the benefits you can get with a VPN on your Android device:

  • Improved online privacy. If your Android device isn’t connected to a VPN, internet service providers, advertisers, and cybercriminals can easily monitor your connection. A VPN encrypts your traffic and gives you more privacy online.
  • Enhanced security. Encryption with a VPN not only protects your online privacy but also increases your Android security. Specifically, it converts communication data into a secure, unbreakable code so that cybercriminals can’t intercept it, protecting sensitive information and maintaining confidentiality. It helps to protect the phone from being hacked through cyberattacks such as man-in-the-middle attacks, packet sniffing, DNS spoofing, and smartphone hijacking. If your device is already infected, here’s how to remove malware from your Android.
  • A different IP address. An IP address is like your digital home address. Advertisers and ISPs use it for marketing, while hackers can target your IP to commit crimes. A VPN hides your real IP address and only shows the server’s IP, preventing third parties from knowing your location.
  • Protection when using public Wi-Fi. Most public Wi-Fi networks offer very little security, making it a target for cybercriminals to exploit. But if you use a VPN, your traffic is encrypted, preventing snoopers from tracking your online activity or spreading malware.
  • Avoiding censorship. Some countries, especially those with authoritarian regimes, set up harsh internet restrictions. A VPN can help you bypass these restrictions, avoid persecution, or simply access your favorite content no matter where you are.

Securing your Android device with top VPN features

Securing your Android device with a VPN is easy but very important. NordVPN is one of the most trusted VPN providers available, offering you a VPN with tons of great features.

  • VPN encryption. NordVPN’s AES-256 encryption, the same standard used by governments and cybersecurity experts worldwide, ensures the best security for your data.
  • A VPN no-logs policy. NordVPN has a strict no-logs policy that’s been verified by independent audits three times.
  • Kill Switch. Kill Switch is a safeguard for your data in case your connection to a VPN server suddenly drops. You can set it up with any of your apps.
  • Traffic routing and file-sharing with Meshnet on Android. Meshnet offers plenty of benefits. For example, you can set up a free VPN by routing traffic through a computer on your Meshnet network.
  • Dark web monitoring. We can monitor the dark web marketplaces for your data. If anything ever comes up, we’ll notify you to change your password.
  • Threat Protection Lite. Threat Protection Lite is our Threat Protection feature’s little brother and is designed for mobile devices. It improves your browsing experience by blocking malicious websites and ads.
  • 6300+ VPN servers in 111 countries. NordVPN has a wide network of servers around the world, which allows you to find a fast server close by.
  • A fast VPN. NordVPN is the fastest VPN in the world, due to our own VPN protocol NordLynx.
  • Customer support. When something goes wrong, NordVPN’s customer support is ready to help 24/7.
  • Affordability. NordVPN is one of the most affordable VPNs on the market. You can even try NordVPN for 30 days without any risk.

While you’ll find several top-rated VPNs for Android devices on the market, NordVPN has been rated the best VPN for Android by Android Central.

Should I use a free VPN app for Android?

Free VPNs for Android may be attractive because you don’t have to pay anything, but they come with considerable risks. They offer limited functionality, slower connection, and sometimes even worse security. On the other hand, paid VPNs offer more features to protect your online privacy and security. Not to mention that free VPNs often sell users’ online activity history and personal information to keep afloat. To know more about the differences between these types of VPNs, check out our Paid vs Free VPNs post.

Devices that can use a VPN for Android

Did you know you can install a VPN on virtually any Android device you own? Here are a few examples:

  • Smartphones. Most VPN providers now offer VPN apps that work with major Android manufacturers, such as Samsung, Google Pixel, and Xiaomi.
  • Tablets. Many people use tablets when using the internet. VPN providers support most Android tablets, including Samsung and Amazon Fire.
  • Android TV. You can set up a VPN for Android TV and watch your favorite shows from anywhere. If there isn’t a dedicated app for your Android TV, you can always set it up manually.
  • Android wearable devices. Smart watches, smart glasses, and fitness trackers can be connected to the internet via a VPN by setting up a VPN on your router.

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VPN for Android: What it is and how to set it up (2024)


What is VPN and how do you use it in Android? ›

  1. Open your device's Settings app.
  2. Tap Network & internet. VPN. If you can't find it, search for "VPN." If you still can't find it, get help from your device manufacturer.
  3. Tap the VPN you want.
  4. Enter your username and password.
  5. Tap Connect. If you use a VPN app, the app opens.

How do I set up my VPN on my Android phone? ›

  1. If you haven't already, add a VPN.
  2. Open your device's Settings app.
  3. Tap Network and Internet. VPN. If you can't find it, search for 'VPN'. ...
  4. Next to the VPN that you want to change, tap Settings .
  5. Turn Always-on VPN on or off. If you've set up a VPN through an app, you won't have the Always-on option.
  6. If needed, tap Save.

What is VPN used for on Android for free? ›

VPNs allow devices that aren't physically on a network to securely access the network. Android includes a built-in (PPTP, L2TP/IPSec, and IPSec) VPN client. Devices running Android 4.0 and later also support VPN apps.

How do I fill up my VPN? ›

Set Up a VPN on an Android Device
  1. Use the application store to download a VPN app.
  2. Go to “Settings” and from there click “Network & Internet” then “Advanced” and, finally, “VPN.”
  3. Click “Add VPN.”
  4. Fill out your VPN's “Name” and “Server” and hit save.
Jan 30, 2024

How to use a VPN for beginners? ›

Once you choose a VPN app for Mac or a VPN suitable for Windows, here's how to start using it:
  1. Download a reliable VPN. We recommend NordVPN, which is super easy to use on both Windows and Mac.
  2. Install the VPN app onto your computer.
  3. Connect to your preferred server.
  4. That's it – now you can start browsing safely.
Jan 12, 2024

Do you really need a VPN for Android? ›

Whether using your cellular connection (3G, 4G, 5G, etc.) or Wi-Fi, your smartphone leaves you open to identity theft and other cyber dangers. To avoid this, learning the uses and benefits of a VPN can help you stay safe: any time you use the internet, you are exposing yourself to all sorts of malicious cyberthreats.

Is it safe to use VPN on Android? ›

A VPN, or a virtual private network, for Android enables users to securely connect to the internet by encrypting their online traffic and masking their IP address. Strong encryption also allows people in authoritarian regimes to bypass censorship and firewall blocks.

What's the best free VPN for Android? ›

Best Free VPN for Android: Quick Recap
  • ProtonVPN – the most secure free VPN.
  • Hide.me – best free no-log VPN for Android.
  • TunnelBear – servers in almost 50 countries.
  • Hotspot Shield – applications for all platforms.
  • Windscribe – offers advanced security features.

How to use VPN for free internet? ›

You can't get free internet with a VPN. Free internet doesn't exist, first of all. You'll need to pay for a provider and then use a VPN to go online safely. VPNs don't provide an internet connection.

Should VPN be on or off on my phone? ›

Yes, You Should! A VPN (virtual private network) is a service that provides a secure Internet connection by using private servers in remote locations.

Is there a 100% free VPN? ›

Proton VPN is currently the best free VPN. The vast majority of free VPNs impose heavy restrictions on things like data allowance, usage time and connection speeds, making them practically useless for anything beyond the most negligible of online activities. Proton VPN imposes no such limitations on its free users.

Why would someone have a VPN on their phone? ›

Complete anonymity: A VPN encrypts your data and hides your real IP address. It makes it extremely difficult for anyone to snoop on your browsing activities – and that's an important factor for those who use their phone as their go-to source for daily activities.

How to setup VPN on Android for free? ›

Manually (built-in)
  1. Go into your Android settings.
  2. Click Network & Internet.
  3. Click Advanced.
  4. Select VPN.
  5. Click the plus sign.
  6. Enter in your administrator's information.
  7. Click Save.
Jan 19, 2024

How to setup a free VPN? ›

Setting up a VPN in Android
  1. Head into Settings > Network & Internet > Advanced > VPN (you should see a little key icon). ...
  2. If you happen to be setting this up on a new phone, or if you haven't yet set a screen lock or password, Google will prompt you to first set one for your phone. ...
  3. Now create your VPN profile.
Mar 1, 2019

How to download VPN for free? ›

How to get a VPN?
  1. Download a VPN from a reliable provider.
  2. Open the file you just downloaded to install your VPN.
  3. After installing the VPN, activate it to protect your data and hide your IP address.

Is VPN free? ›

Yes, technically free VPNs work, but in a severely restricted capacity compared to paid ones. For example, you'll have slower connection speeds, fewer server options, no extra features, limited device compatibility, and other limitations.

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